Wembley Stadium, London
Stadium Tour Review
By Doug Bagley
My first visit to Wembley was in 1977, England 0 Holland 2 and I have loved the place every since. I must have been to the old Stadium over 100 times, very rarely missing an England game and being there for all the Spurs Cup Finals.
I will always remember Ricky Villa in 81, Gazza in the Semi 91 and of course Gazza v the skirt wearers in Euro 96.
I was at the Community Day in March, the FA Cup Final in May and all of our Home games since the New Wembley opened.
I have been very lucky over the years, to have visited the Great Stadiums in Europe and have also done all the major Stadium Tours. The Best Stadiums and Tours in my opinion are the San Siro, Nou Camp and the Bernabeu.
I know that not everyone is impressed with the New Wembley - and I myself, whilst understanding the need for Club Wembley and Corporate Seats etc, really dislikes this feature of the Stadium. But I am a Supporter of the New Wembley and like everyone else I am extremely Proud to be English. So, yesterday before seeing Spurs v Reading I booked myself on the 10.00 Stadium Tour at a cost of £16.
There were other Spurs fans, some Chelsea and West Ham on the Tour. The Stadium was that busy that instead of running Tours every 30 minutes, the Tours were running every 15 minutes. The Tour was due to last 90 minutes, but actually lasted 2 hours.
To gain entry to the Tour was like going through Airport Security. We had a very knowledgeable Tour guide who was very friendly and keen not to rush people and let everyone take as many photos as they wanted.
After a Welcome video from Michael Owen, we went into the Stadium on the Top tier to see the full effect of the Wembley bowl. Sadly, the pitch has not yet been re-laid following the Car Racing event. Then it was to the FA Function Room, the Press Interview Room and a short Wembley History Video.
Then to me a Special moment.
We entered the Players Tunnel, which has a quite simple but stunning effect, on a Red background - 2 very large England badges either side of a banner saying 'WE ARE ENGLAND'
At this point, it really hit me - If I was an England Player going through that Tunnel, I would be prepared to die for the Shirt - how the hell did they mess-up so badly against Croatia!!!!!
Before going through the Tunnel, we visited the England Dressing Room with the shirts laid out as they were for the Russia game.
All around the Dressing Room area were large pictures of the England players with motivational messages, but in strange writing (similar to old English), so much so that they were hard to read.
Then it was under the 'WE ARE ENGLAND' sign and through the Tunnel with the Wembley crowd noise playing in the background. What a view, what a Stadium.
After many pitch side photos we walked up, as John Terry did last May, all those steps up to the Royal Box to where there was a £50,000 Replica FA Cup waiting. On the old Wembley Stadium Tour there was a cheap nasty old Speedway Trophy - this was different class, an amazing replica of the FA Cup. The Trophy was guarded, and you could only put one hand on the Trophy for Photos etc.
After imagining Ledley King lifting the Trophy for Spurs next May, we went out through the lounges to the Bobby Moore statue and the Tour ended. Our Tour Guide gave out great amounts of information, which would be especially useful to younger fans.
There is now a Stadium Shop where I purchased the excellent New Wembley Stadium Book, slightly over priced at £30 but full of great photos and detail.
The only downside to the Tour is the lack of a Museum, surely the Football Association could provide the Memorabilia. Our Guide said that there were plans for a Museum in the near future.
I recommend the Tour to every England fan, especially if you are coming down to London for a game.
We have a Stadium to be very Proud of and as that Tunnel Banner says 'WE ARE ENGLAND'
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